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Author Topic: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project  (Read 18811 times)

Uronym

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #30 on: January 25, 2015, 04:42:11 pm »


Yeah, that's cool. Apparently Malay and Georgian have what are known as circumfixes. That would be great. I was just thinking of how the words are compounded in dwarf place/personal names (especially fortress names, like "Strongfortress", not "Fortressstrong"; the fortress name editor has various restrictions); perhaps both could be used! Prefixes (for adjectives) and circumfixes (for quality/amount) could be used together: a *strong sword* could mean a "super" strong sword. This would be extremely useful, as there are no words for "very" or similar modifiers dictionary.

So, an example with these rules in Dwarven:
* esh-on = good (+) circumfix
* kul-sim = superior (*) circumfix

Zaludlektad eshonolbometaron kulgeshudsim.
(abr.) Zaludlektad +onolbometar+ *geshud*.
Future-lure +mountain-home-king+ *fortress*.
A superior fortress will bring (lure) the great king of the mountain-homes.

After reading those thoroughly-German length words, it's definitely easy to see why the dwarves might choose to abbreviate the circumfixes, especially in writing. Circumfixes seem to really quickly clutter things up...

Also, I think that it's justifiable that there's separate words for sorcerer and sorcery. Some other cases too. That said, I have no problem with ditching some things in favour of compound words.

I like Dirst's idea of using the specific words defined in the dictionary as "archaic" or "formal" versions of words that could be otherwise made from simple compounds.
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Dirst

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #31 on: January 25, 2015, 05:04:33 pm »

I see the quality marks as an interestingly dwarven form of punctuation.  The double-angle quotes act as delimiters between modifiers, to make it abundantly clear what "level" to which the quality refers.  Representing punctuation in speech is a bit tricky, but fortunately we are mostly interested in the written language.

The equivalents in English are Capitalization and scare quotes.  It used to be fairly common to capitalize a Thing to demonstrate that it was Important.  This usage has persisted in proper names, but atrophied for common nouns except for comedic effect.  It's usually voiced as emphasis that seems out of place in that sentence.  Scare quotes are more like a poor-quality mark and indicate disagreement.  They are usually voiced with a mocking tone, a hand signal for air quotes, or both.

I think three levels is about the maximum possible that could enter common usage in a language.  The innermost quality is for the bracketed phrase, the next quality is for the embellishments of that phrase, and the outermost for appropriateness of the context/surroundings.  So a ☼««goblin prisoner»»☼ would be one suffering a particularly fitting punishment, and at least for some players an ≡««elven caravan»»≡ is bathing in magma.

If we want to add the complexity of nested quality, the inner delimiter should be ‹ and ›, though for game text that reduces to < and >.  This would allow for ≡«*«+‹-«☼steel☼»-› battle axe+»*»≡ which is made from masterfully-made steel that has been decorated well (perhaps with bluing) fashioned into a finely-crafted battle axe menacing with superior spikes of silver, that is in the hands of someone who has skill with a battle axe and prefers silver.

Expressing such a complicated attitude in speech would be daunting.  Probably more subtle body-language than actual sound, and the kind of thing that a non-native speaker would get wrong.  Repeatedly.
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bahihs

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #32 on: January 25, 2015, 05:23:58 pm »

Quote
Expressing such a complicated attitude in speech would be daunting.  Probably more subtle body-language than actual sound, and the kind of thing that a non-native speaker would get wrong killed for.  Repeatedly.

This explains dwarven psychotic rage perfectly....
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CaptainMcClellan

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #33 on: January 25, 2015, 05:28:23 pm »

I see the quality marks as an interestingly dwarven form of punctuation.  The double-angle quotes act as delimiters between modifiers, to make it abundantly clear what "level" to which the quality refers.  Representing punctuation in speech is a bit tricky, but fortunately we are mostly interested in the written language.

The equivalents in English are Capitalization and scare quotes.  It used to be fairly common to capitalize a Thing to demonstrate that it was Important.  This usage has persisted in proper names, but atrophied for common nouns except for comedic effect.  It's usually voiced as emphasis that seems out of place in that sentence.  Scare quotes are more like a poor-quality mark and indicate disagreement.  They are usually voiced with a mocking tone, a hand signal for air quotes, or both.

I think three levels is about the maximum possible that could enter common usage in a language.  The innermost quality is for the bracketed phrase, the next quality is for the embellishments of that phrase, and the outermost for appropriateness of the context/surroundings.  So a ☼««goblin prisoner»»☼ would be one suffering a particularly fitting punishment, and at least for some players an ≡««elven caravan»»≡ is bathing in magma.

If we want to add the complexity of nested quality, the inner delimiter should be ‹ and ›, though for game text that reduces to < and >.  This would allow for ≡«*«+‹-«☼steel☼»-› battle axe+»*»≡ which is made from masterfully-made steel that has been decorated well (perhaps with bluing) fashioned into a finely-crafted battle axe menacing with superior spikes of silver, that is in the hands of someone who has skill with a battle axe and prefers silver.

Expressing such a complicated attitude in speech would be daunting.  Probably more subtle body-language than actual sound, and the kind of thing that a non-native speaker would get wrong.  Repeatedly.
For the purposes I'm looking at, that's far too complex and I think such usage would only enter play as "jargon" of bookkeepers and elite merchants ( such as brokers ). I'm looking more into the Dwarven liberal arts: Poetry, history, "music". That said, that seems to lean more towards focusing on the spoken, but with all the ambiguity of what the diacritics notate... Perhaps a heavily simplified version could be used in the vernacular?

In line with what Miuramir was saying, as I understand it... Yeah? But how would that be conveyed with spoken language? Would there be phonemes or "sacred syllables" that are interwoven with the quality markers, a la the ideograph idea? And if we're getting into the metaphysical would there be variations on the pronunciation these ideographs to denote sacred or secular? ( For example +steel battle axe+, sai delerlibash for "fine battle axe", versus +ghost+ såh ngotol for the ghost of a finely venerable dwarf? Or ghost of a semi-sacred dwarf? Note that the pronunciations provided are arbitrary for example purposes. )

Quote
Expressing such a complicated attitude in speech would be daunting.  Probably more subtle body-language than actual sound, and the kind of thing that a non-native speaker would get wrong killed for.  Repeatedly.

This explains dwarven psychotic rage perfectly....
Yes. Also what I said above. If someone were to say of a dwarf that he was "sai onul" instead of "såh onul", ( meaning to complement him saying that the dwarf has/is a +soul+ ) it could be taken as an insult in the form of any of the following:
-sacrilege
-equating the dwarf to an object.
-perceived racism
-etc.

But I don't know...

Dirst

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #34 on: January 25, 2015, 05:45:15 pm »

Although I agree that the proper use for quality-level (or general "fitness") punctuation is technical, it's the kind of thing I'd expect any literate dwarf to recognize.  Therefore it would probably show up in art in much the same way that currency symbols find their way into art now.

But definitely not a "core" part of the language, so table it for the moment.  Going back and re-reading about "analytical" languages, it sounds like a plausible mechanism for the unrelated root issue.

I remember a long time ago when I was playing around with some Chinese symbols (I don't read or speak the language), I noticed that "electron" was a compound of "lightning particle."  Out of curiosity I constructed the symbols for "thunder particle" and was surprised to get a translation of "plain-clothes police officer."   ???

My suggestion is still to retain the unrelated roots as archaic/irregular forms and not let them get in the way of generating rules for compounding.  The DF name generator tells us that compounding is an accepted practice.
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Loam

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #35 on: January 25, 2015, 07:10:15 pm »

Another of these projects. I am still "working" on my version of the language (as in, it is still under construction), though it's probably more complex than anyone would care for... Anyway, I guess I'll post some of my key ideas here. They're already elsewhere in the forums, but I'll put them up again for consistency.

Spoiler: Pronunciation (click to show/hide)

Vowels are key in Dwarvish (an idea derived from the fact that Dwarvish has more distinct vowel orthographs than any of the other languages. There are several types of sounds per vowel "category": basic (no diacritic), long (circumflex), and "half-vowels" (diaresis), seen respectively as normal, strong, and weak forms of the same sound. There are also the rising and falling forms (a subset of the basic type), and a special "deep A" (å) which is now considered as part of the A-system, although it has roots as an O-system vowel.

The relationships between vowels would be the basis for much of the syntax (case markings, plurals, conjugations, etc). I conceived of Dwarvish being, largely though not exclusively, an ablauting language - changing interior vowels according to some kind of vowel harmony, as in English sing/sang/sung - as opposed to an affixing or particle-based language (sorry to you analytic folks out there!). This harmony would be based on a diagram of all the vowels are their relationships to each other:
Spoiler: Vowel Relationships (click to show/hide)

I also came up with some rules for stress, though I'm not 100% positive on how well they'd sound:
Spoiler: Stress (click to show/hide)

Other than that, and some rudimentary case/gender/conjugation stuff, the biggest thing I came up with was sentence structure. I though Dwarves might use various structures for different verb voices (active, passive, and imperative), perhaps in concert with some articles or case endings for subject/object:

I have also been actively adding new words to the Dwarvish lexicon, because 2,000 is not enough (especially when that 2000 contains so few of the most commonly used English words, especially verbs and important things like PRONOUNS).

My sig text is an example of the language as it stands. It reads: "Do not raise your arms against us; or, by Armok, we will make you bleed."
Åvath is vath "raise" with a negative prefix.
öntâk is the plural of öntak "arm," as a strong noun it pluralizes by lengthening its stem vowel.
tu than is a genitive phrase, with than being you (plural or formal) and tu being "of"; so, "your (plural)."
tar is the future of tor, "to make." Basic tense (present-past-future) is marked by shifting the stem vowel clockwise (for future)
     or counterclockwise (past) along the dotted lines. So a verb in "o" shifts to "a" when in future tense.
sut is technically an infinitive; Dwarvish employs an aorist for both simple infinitives and present tense.

There's more than that in my files, but a lot of it is placeholder: things like verbals and gerunds and participles, and even less fun stuff like relative clauses, which will probably just end up looking like English 'cos it's easy.

Oh, also I made an alphabet and accompanying font (it's an earlier form, I'll need to update it).

CaptainMcClellan

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #36 on: January 26, 2015, 12:38:56 am »

I think Loam's sentence structure will prevail. I still side with the analytical language group more than the tonal. Though I am willing to bet there's considerable overlap. Plus it dodges Dirst's and my own points about similar but unrelated words. I think that descriptions and many "basic" adjectives may well be incorporated within words, but that possession, number, and other elements will be handled analytically outside of the word. ( By suffix or compound words. )

Saram-61-97-kon

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #37 on: January 26, 2015, 05:31:25 pm »

This thread sounds very interesting, but in my opinion the dwarven language (Is it called Dwarven?) lacks on naturality. There is no (visible) relationship between words with similiar meaning, like e.g.
Control:    egul
Controller: tesum
You can see this for a lot of other words. I dont know how the language was created, but for me it seems, that it is mostly random with basic rules about vowels and consonants.
So maybe some words should be substituted words, which have similiar bases to the corresponing nouns/adjectives etc. This would lead to language, which is a lot smoother.

What do you think? And I would be really interested to know, how the original language was exactly created, if anyone knows. The wiki does not mention this.
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Miuramir

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #38 on: January 26, 2015, 05:50:39 pm »

Picking out a system for genders isn't going to be particularly graceful.

MAN:udos
BOY:ärged
WOMAN:aral
GIRL:saruth
BABY:åm

I could eyeball that and say that -s and -d sound "masculine" to dwarves, -l and -th sound "feminine" and -m sounds indeterminate.  Four of them have leading vowels, but the s- on girl either breaks the idea of a leading vowel indicating a personal noun, or enters as some strange irregular case.  Probably best to ignore the leading vowels for now.

If we go with the four theme, the dwarven genders would be male, female, both/indeterminate, and genderless. 

I'm not sure the "four" concept is well supported.  I was thinking about dwarven gender (linguistic) some recently, and again trying to go back to the "source documents".  Things that are capable of breeding sexually (in their natural, adult state) have a gender flag (the common "Mars" and "Venus" symbols) in their description.  Everything else does not.  With gelding now in play, a gelded (deliberately or via combat) male, formerly denoted by ♂, will be displayed as x♂x; the same "this thing is damaged" circumfix used elsewhere for item wear, etc. 

(Incidentally, this is yet more support that dwarven is a heavily circumfix-oriented language as Toady perceives it.) 

So, from a linguistic standpoint, it appears that the dwarven language considers most things to be "it" (having no gender), unless they are specifically a male or female of a breeding species (or used to be, or will grow into).  In that case, gender is a *modifier*.  Some languages (English included) can have a fairly weird set of irregular names for different ages and genders of some species; calf, bull, steer, heifer, cow... Dwarves would probably not do this, and would have modifier-based constructs that worked out to "baby cow", "male cow", "castrated male cow", "young female cow", "productive female cow", etc. 

From a social / cultural standpoint, DF's dwarves don't seem to have decent linguistic terms for gender orientation or gender presentation, where different from the biological default.  This may represent a cultural shift, where society has changed faster than language; or more logically might reflect dwarves simply *not caring*.  In a setting where mysterious forces compel dwarves to put on and take off outfits at odd times, where it's not terribly odd to have someone show up to work wearing twelve cloaks but only one sock, and where no item of clothing is or has ever been produced in a gender-specific fashion, dwarves don't *need* words for cross-dressing.  It's just dressing as a dwarf, normal to them and not worthy of comment, despite the occasional (one might even say regular) weirdness to us humans. 

Another interesting thought is that DF dwarves don't seem to think about gender preference quite the way modern Western culture does.  A dwarf has two, independent scales for their relationship preferences, one for "with males" and one for "with females".  Each scale can currently be "disinterested", "lover", or "commitment (marriage)".  Unlike English, it seems unlikely that there would be specific names for the nine combinations of scale values; and there's no assumption that there is any sort of correlation between the two scales. 

Again, this all comes back to an archaeological / historical anthropological view of dwarven language; it's like trying to piece together a native culture and language from a limited number of 17th-century explorer's notes and occasional archaeological remains.  You try to infer what you can from the way the pieces you do have fit together, and extrapolate only where necessary. 
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Uronym

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #39 on: January 26, 2015, 09:30:48 pm »


Unfortunately for overseers wishing to make matches, dwarves seem to linguistically refer to each other in terms of their biology, rather than their preferences, making it extremely difficult to know when you have a compatible pair. This seems to suggest that ideas of gender and orientation barely matter to them (as you suggest).

The units list seems to not tell us a lot about the names dwarves give to most animals, as it uses the English words for them. However, it is notable that dwarves find the gender of small fish and rodents to be extremely important, to the point of selling and storing male and female prepared fish/rodents separately ("cave turtle (♂) roast", for instance). I really have no idea why they might do this, but it is definitely worthy of note.

Perhaps dwarves have no linguistic gender, except, very specifically, when referring to vermin. I doubt this would be a wider linguistic feature; they probably just have separate words for, say, a male or female rat; while they can see similarity between the two, they would hardly consider the two to be the same animal like we would. Perhaps if they were uncertain what they were looking at, they would say "(word for male rat) or (word for female rat)", similar to "he/she" (the ugliest construct in English).

I don't like linguistic gender myself; leaves a European taste in the mouth. Supposing that we did, though, we have no idea how the words in the dictionary fit into whatever genders we choose. As Dirst noted, there is no immediately obvious pattern. I would say that we are better without, at least for non-vermin.
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CaptainMcClellan

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #40 on: January 26, 2015, 09:35:46 pm »

An alternative theory is that with transexual and homosexual beings have been dropped into the Dwarf Fortress only very recently, Armok hasn't had the time to catch up! :p Also... I feel similar about gender in dwarven culture, males and females are only different in biological sex in the eyes of a dwarf and all clothing is unisex. I'm also not convinced transgender is really a thing in Dwarven, so I don't think they'd have a term for it. ( Again, to dwarves, gender would be a vestigial component of a dwarf's identity, beyond perhaps "family roles". So I don't even think it would occur in a dwarf's thought process to identify as a different gender, as in more "gender-centric" races like humans. I don't think they'd think weird of, or perhaps even perceive a transgender individual and would just either a)treat the individual as their birth gender or b)the gender they claim to be, with much stronger likelihood of the former. ) Then again, that's just how I interpret it based on what's known about dwarves.

CaptainMcClellan

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #41 on: January 26, 2015, 09:37:17 pm »

Sniped! XD

CaptainMcClellan

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #42 on: January 26, 2015, 09:41:01 pm »

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Perhaps it's more to do with harvesting delicacies, such as rat tripe or various fish roe...

Also, explain the last comment about the 'linguistic gender'.

Uronym

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #43 on: January 26, 2015, 09:52:05 pm »

Perhaps it's more to do with harvesting delicacies, such as rat tripe or various fish roe...

Also, explain the last comment about the 'linguistic gender'.

Some languages (like European Romantic languages) have gender included as part of literally every word. For instance, the sun and moon could be male and female (or the opposite!); even inanimate, apparently neutral objects (such as rocks, water, tables, computers, etc.) can have genders. I don't think this fits with the dwarves well, as they hardly seem to care about gender at all (except in their +rat (♂) roasts+).
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Loam

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Re: Dwarven Linguistics Core Project
« Reply #44 on: January 26, 2015, 10:06:29 pm »

It seems "genders yea or nay" is always the major hang-up for these threads, what with people mixing biology and sociology and linguistics in ways they aren't meant to be combined. I think, personally, that it's jumping the gun to say "dwarves don't care about gender" - or "dwarves think X, Y, and Z" about anything - when the game isn't even half finished: just last year dwarves had maybe five emotions, and now they've upwards of 190. Besides, the game is all about playing however you see fit: oughtn't the language and other metagame elements to be the same way? If it can be done, shouldn't the language be made malleable enough to make sense for as many different player conceptions of dwarven society and culture as possible (since currently about 80% of dwarven culture is nonexistent, and in the future it's likely to be procedural anyway)?
I personally like genders as a concept but I've left them out, largely for the reason someone mentioned earlier about not having an obvious pattern. Perhaps a consensus to table the issue, in the interest of making some headway, is in order?
(Although really, there's going to be debate over every aspect of the language; there's only so much you can "prove" when, as I said, the game is half finished. That's one reason I decided to work solo)

This thread sounds very interesting, but in my opinion the dwarven language (Is it called Dwarven?) lacks on naturality. There is no (visible) relationship between words with similiar meaning, like e.g.
Control:    egul
Controller: tesum
I believe the language was created with a program, so that accounts for the rather shaky relationships between words. I approach them, mostly, as "approximate translations": tesum is not linguistically related to egul, but semantically a tesum is the same as an egul-er.
Although there are some juicy similarities. My favorite is between nil "hammer" and ùnil "hammerer." I used this to derive an ù- agentive prefix (in this case, "one who hammers").
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